Friday, May 26, 2017

The Voice Of Reason

I am pretty sure that I don't want to live in a world of fake news. Yes, I know that all human observation is subjective and therefore each person's viewpoint comes to us through a filter of his or her own experience, but there should be some level at which we can simply trust. This was "journalism" as I grew up with it. Walter Cronkite didn't lie to us.
Did he?
Since Walter retired back in 1981, we lost the most trusted man in America. His voice brought us through the sixties and seventies. Vietnam. The Kennedy Assassination. Watergate. The moon landing. Not a screen full of screeching pundits, but one man who reported the news from behind a desk, with the occasional side trip to a war zone or vacation spot. Mostly you could find Mister Cronkite on CBS, giving you the evening news in a digestible form that wasn't designed to taunt or entice or inflame. It was the news.
Now we have an entire network that calls itself "News," but wants to keep its distance by reminding us after the fact that they are giving us opinions. That's part of the way that a twenty-four hour news cycle can be filled. Rushing to air with the first bit of information that has yet to be verified makes ratings spike, and that's good business.
But is it news?
In the wake of the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, the machine called News turned its Eye of Sauron onto Northern England to feed us the terror and confusion that was pouring out of that city. That's what happens when the satellite trucks show up. The correspondents will tell you what they have just heard and if enough of them agree on that collective hunch, we run with it. This is about the time that someone phones in their claim of responsibility, and the terrorism label can be applied. Meanwhile, the stories of the families go on in the background as the tragedy is mined for the patience of the audience.
Until something else blows up. The circus tents come down and move to the next crater. Before the smoke clears.
I miss you, Walter Cronkite.

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